UN: Pirates off Somalia paid up to $30 million this year

Pirates plying the waters off Somalia are estimated to have been paid between US$25 million and US$30 million in ransom this year as lawlessness and insecurity increase across the country, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday. The surge in piracy and armed robbery against ships along the Somali coast has severely affected trade, contributed to a humanitarian crisis, and further weakened the country's transitional federal government, the secretary-general said in a report. Between January and the end of October, Ban said, about 65 merchant ships, with about 200 crew members each, have been hijacked off the coast of Somalia, particularly in the sea bordering the semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland.